CONFESSION, Kimo Armitage

by Kimo Armitage
Before you came along with your pen,
I told my secrets to the ocean.
Someone I wronged is there
we cremated him,
watched as the frigate birds
circled the shore.
Today, I whisper, “The
fire was not my fault.”
But I know the desire
to devour everything it touches,
feel the heat crackle,
let my tongue taste the smoke,
see the hairs on my arm stick up.
I travel West,
the sun on my back
because I am ashamed. I land
in a plantation village. A kind
woman named Hatsuko makes
soup from eels
they writhe in my dreams, and
became ropes around my wrists.
When the eels finally let me go
I run to Chinatown,
to drink snake's blood.
I am courageous, but
only when fighting with my new lover,
a delicious Chinese woman
with porcelain fingers.
She reads my fortune, and
predicts that I will die alone.
I am told later that heroin
swallows the beautiful angles
of her face but by then
I had already cut my wrists
into strips when my
Filipino butler returned
to his wife.
I befriend a Korean woman
who makes pickled cabbage
from her own hands.
We let the juice fall
from the corners of my mouth, and
stare at each other until
my wrists start to bleed wine and I
cry when I remember the sounds
of my mother's racism,
the sound of her money
paying for murder.
I pine for a beautiful man
who punches my jaw and
takes away my ability to taste.
I let my hair grow out
but it does not hide the scars.
Eventually, one of my eyes
changes color
when the tumor grows larger. But I 
still love this man who
makes me grovel
while taking all my possessions.
When a kind man
brings me jasmine tea,
I curse him for arriving late.
He teaches me how
to talk to the ocean, but he
does not love me.
I confess every day
about the body in the car trunk.
Never once does he turn away.
I face East again
when he takes my face
in both hands and
teaches me the names
of moon phases in his language.
I see him in Safeway buying pumpkins,
Chablis, and cinnamon and I
know he is in love.
I follow him to their house,
the cool Northward wind prevents them
from having children. I profess to you, again.
The fire was not my fault.
You see, I come from a place
where ashes float like snow in the air.
Where the greatest racism
is our own self-hate, and
we can never seem to find
ourselves in others.
We will all be gone one day,
but in this lovely place,
there will be these truths:
the South bearing wind will
always bring the humidity,
too many barbiturates will kill you, and
the ocean currents will
retell the same stories,
again and again
if we place our open palms
onto the face of sea.
Kimo Armitage draws upon the rich stories of his youth spent in Haleiwa, Hawaii, where he was raised by his maternal grandparents. He is the winner of the 2016 Maureen Egan Writers Exchange in Poetry administered by Poets & Writers. Armitage published his first novel, The Healers, with the University of Hawaii Press in April 2016.
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About barkingsycamores 183 Articles
Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer neurodivergent people of color. We publish poetry, artwork, short fiction (beginning with Issue 3), creative nonfiction (beginning with Issue 8), and hybrid genre work (beginning with Issue 9) by emerging and established neurodivergent writers as well as essays on neurodiversity and literature and book reviews (beginning with Issue 10).

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